Tag: South Bend Tribune

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Draft snub fueling Williams’ drive to the NFL


In a story nobody thought he’d be writing, Ian Williams reflected on getting passed up in last weekend’s NFL Draft.

Williams, who some had pegged as a second rounder early in the year, expected to go somewhere between the third and fifth round of the draft. Instead, he’s weighing his options back in South Bend, as NFL rookie free agency is closed because of the lockout.

One emotion that’s been weighing on Williams? The embarrassment of having family and friends gathered to celebrate his selection, a party that never happened:

From Williams, in yesterday’s South Bend Tribune:

I spent last weekend at home in the Orlando area, waiting for my name to be called in the NFL Draft, which didn’t happen.

It was tough. It was more embarrassing than anything. When people ask or when people Google my name or something like that, you’ll see projections of third to fifth round.

Late in the draft, teams did call, but not for the reasons I hoped they would. It was kind of like false hope. You’re sitting around for hours waiting for the phone call…

I happened to have a few family and friends who were at my house with me Friday and Saturday. And again not seeing my name called, it was very embarrassing.

After the draft ended, I didn’t even want to talk to anybody. I snuck out the window, got in my car and just drove off for a little bit, because I needed to clear my head.

The hard part is I’ve tried to do everything right for the past eight years: Graduate from high school, not have any troubles in high school, graduate from college, not have any off-the-field issues, play all four years, go to the combine, go to the Senior Bowl, do good at both, have a good Pro Day. I tried to do everything right.

Why it’s embarrassing is because I look beyond myself. I talk to a lot of kids, including a kid who’s a sophomore or junior at one of the high schools back home.

He was like, ‘Did you get drafted?’ And I told him that I didn’t. And he didn’t text me back for a while, and it kind of made me feel bad. That’s the embarrassing part — I was supposed to be this example for this kid and I’ve done everything right and I still don’t get my name called. It really hit home.

There’s no doubt that Williams getting injured halfway through the season was a huge blow to his draft prospects, even though he did rebound to play in the Sun Bowl and the Senior Bowl. You could also argue his development at Notre Dame — playing as a true freshman, bouncing between both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, and being really the only true nose tackle on the roster — hurt him just as badly.

But for every Ryan Simms, a top-ten pick that’s now resurfacing in the UFL Draft, there’s a John Randle, who went undrafted out of tiny Texas A&I on his way to the Hall of Fame. And while Williams’ virtues still didn’t get him noticed by NFL teams (it’s always sad when a guy that does it right — no arrests, graduating in four years, a good person), those virtues are the ones that will help him stick on an NFL roster.

The draft process with Williams, which has been wonderfully chronicled by the South Bend Tribune, has been illuminating — with Williams reflecting on Michael Floyd, the future of the Irish, and just about everything else. No doubt, these articles likely fueled some of the embarrassment, each one of these diary entries assuming that he’d be selected at least somewhere.

If there’s a silver lining in the process, Williams gets an additional few weeks to merely let football sit off to the side for a while, when he’ll reap the fruits of his labors at Notre Dame, with graduation slated for later this month.

Williams talks Blue-Gold, NFL Draft

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What would we do without Ian Williams? As much as I’m ready to banish the idea of Todd McShay and Mel Kiper from my head, the upcoming NFL Draft means more weekly musings from Williams as he prepares for the NFL Draft at the South Bend Tribune.

Since you guys should just go over there and read about it I won’t post the whole thing, but here are a few snippets that I found interesting.

Williams on the Blue-Gold game:

“The weather was crappy as usual, but besides that the team looked pretty good.”

(Having stood about 10 feet away from Williams on the sideline I can definitely agree with both statements.)

Probably of more interest to Irish fans were Williams’ thoughts on touted freshman Aaron Lynch, and quarterbacks Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson.

I like how Aaron Lynch plays. He makes a lot of plays but he may not be in exactly that right gap that Coach Diaco or Coach Elston may want him in.

Just for him to be able to go out and make tackles and be able to run around and have fun is half of it. I think this summer he’ll work hard on memorizing his plays and getting stronger.

On offense, quarterback Andrew Hendrix has gotten much better than where he was last fall, running the scout team. In the spring game, he looked really comfortable. When he was back there against us for scout team in the fall, you could tell he was a freshman, so he made a few mistakes.

But you could see at times he had glimpses of great throws, and he’d break out of the pocket and make a great run. So he has all the ability. He needs to put it all together, which he will soon.

Freshman quarterback Everett Golson brings that elusiveness. You could probably do a package with him or put him out at receiver. I don’t know what Coach Kelly has in store for Everett, but it’s hard to keep athletes like Everett off the field.

Williams appraisal of Lynch is probably one of the best you’ll find, considering he knows the schematics being taught to the talented freshman by Diaco and Elston, but he’s also able to acknowledge the potential Lynch has without messing with the player-coach dynamic.

It’ll be up to Lynch to work this summer with his teammates to get mentally prepared for a season where he’ll have the opportunity to contribute immediately. One thing that’ll be a great advantage for Lynch is having two veteran defensive ends in front of him. It might be tougher for Lynch to take snaps if Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore need to come off the field for it to happen, but he’ll have two tutors that have played a ton of football in front of him and teaching him in the months where it’s up to the veteran leaders to organize and run football activities.

Ian Williams talks draft, Rudy, Te’o and Floyd

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In his running diary at the South Bend Tribune, Notre Dame nose guard Ian Williams had a great post about the NFL lockout, the upcoming draft, and former teammates Kyle Rudolph, Manti Te’o, and Michael Floyd.

As Williams returns to campus to finish his classes before May graduation, he talks about balancing his preparations for Notre Dame’s April 7 pro day while training in Chicago with former teammates Kerry Neal, Brian Smith and Robert Hughes, all guys that have legitimate shots at catching on with an NFL team — if they ever figure out their labor impasse.

Williams also gave us some minor scoop that Kyle Rudolph signed an endorsement deal with Adidas, which helps explains his inclusion in the latest Adidas “All In” commercial. (Don’t blink, you might miss him.)

It’s a pretty cool commercial and Notre Dame’s inclusion with Derek Rose, Katy Perry, and Lionel Messi certainly means something I’m not qualified to figure out. But if there’s one thing Irish fans might like hearing is Williams’ take on Irish star Michael Floyd, who decided to stay in school for his senior year, and rising junior Manti Te’o, who also will have a decision to make after next season.

From Williams:

The lockout won’t stop endorsement deals. My former teammate, Kyle Rudolph, signed with adidas. Me, I haven’t gotten any calls. Rudy is an offensive player. A lot of those brands — adidas, Nike — they like the offensive guys, but I’m happy for Rudy to get something like that.

You really never know where you’re going to go in the draft. You hear things and they have projections, but when you’re a player in college, you just have to go out there and play as hard as you can.

You can’t focus on something like, “If I do good here, if I get a sack here, I’ll go in the second round, third round.” That’s kind of being a selfish player.

If you go out and play hard every Saturday and do what you can, at the end of the day, the coaches and the scouts will see that.

The projections, ESPN and all that, really don’t mean anything. The coaches and GMs and the scouts who are in the draft war room at the time have the final decision of where you may go.

Now sometimes you have teammates you know will be high draft choices eventually. Michael Floyd, I think personally, would have been a first-rounder this year.

There were questions about his speed, but those people apparently don’t know that Michael Floyd is actually fast. And Manti Te’o is going to be a great linebacker.

I think he’ll stay all four years, but when he does come out, with his talent and the way he’s played the past two years, he’s going to be a first-rounder.

I wasn’t in the position to have to make a decision to come out early, like Michael Floyd did this year and Manti might next year. I think it would have been difficult, but it comes back to the thought that there is no experience that parallels being in college.

I would have talked to Jimmy (Clausen) and Golden (Tate) about it, but I think if I was in that position, I would have come back.

Te’o mentioned when he decided to forgo his Mormon mission that he’d be staying for four seasons in South Bend, but obviously restating that claim after next fall will have Irish fans breathing a lot easier. And while it’s an exercise in futility, if Williams had the recruiting skills needed to bring back Clausen and Tate to the Irish offense this year, it could’ve been a much different story, especially with the defensive renaissance.